A Place to Choose

on the Pregnancy Help Movement & the End of Big Abortion

The contemporary pregnancy help movement is largely responsible for the decline in U.S. abortion numbers over the years, beginning in the mid-1980s. Roe  v. Wade nationalized abortion, overruling state laws, and, according to the Guttmacher Institute (whose figures are more reliable than the CDC’s), numbers shot up from 745,600 in 1973 to 1,600,000 in 1981, before leveling off. The number of pregnancy help centers increased slightly in the same period, but then increased sharply in the mid-1980s, and abortion numbers began their steady decline until about 2017. These centers now number about 2,700. They include those that offer counseling as well as material and practical help, those that also offer medical services such as ultrasound and STI testing and treatment, and maternity homes.

State laws (before recent changes to the laws) also had a demonstrable effect on abortion numbers, especially when Medicaid funding was approved or denied for abortion, but such changes to laws had limited, if immediate, effects. The increase in pregnancy help centers, however, correlates well with the steadily dropping abortion numbers. This pattern follows that of the late-nineteenth/early-twentieth-century decline in abortions, as the maternity homes of that period increased in number and reach. (See Marvin Olasky, Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion in America, 1992.)

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